Glen Durrant has been the main forefront in terms of discussion topics throughout the 2019 Betfred World Matchplay. The Teesside ace has endured a ‘dream debut’ on the seaside in Blackpool, and his heroics have certainly silenced those early ‘critics’ since his move from the BDO in January.
The three-time World Champion has already stamped his authority on life in the PDC as a full-time professional, winning two ranking titles on the Players Championship series, and with those victories, he accumulated enough ranking money to secure qualification for almost every televised tournament in 2019.
in terms of potential to have a decent run at the 2019 Betfred World Matchplay, the odds were stacked against the Teessider as he was faced with a first-round tie against former two-time World Champion Adrian Lewis, and then potentially World no.1 Michael Van Gerwen.
As for his own expectations, Durrant always comes across as a very humble and realistic individual in terms of his approach leading into tournaments.
So, as ‘Duzza’ entered the historic Winter Gardens venue for the first time to take on Adrian Lewis, he entered the match as the favourite with the bookmakers, which surprised Durrant as he has the upmost respect for ‘Jackpot’ but those odds just highlight how good Durrant has been since joining the PDC ranks.
In terms of the match itself, Durrant showed no signs of any nerves or relent as he stormed to a 10-4 victory over the former two-time World Champion. It was a very ‘Glen Durrant’ display as he averaged 101.05 with a 58.82 checkout success rate.
Durrant restricted ‘Jackpot’ to just ten attempts at a double in fourteen legs in what was very much a captivating performance to open up his World Matchplay campaign.
Following ‘that’ impressive performance to see off Adrian Lewis, the standard in terms of caliber went up a notch or two as ‘Duzza’ faced the tough task of facing Michael Van Gerwen for a place in the Quarter-Finals.
The second-round tie was deemed to be Durrant’s toughest test since moving over to the PDC, and the Teesside-based ace really rose to the occasion.
During the opening embers of the battle of two three-time World Champions, the task of facing the World no.1 was a challenge that Durrant relished, and grasped the opportunity with both hands.
Durrant edged the first two ‘mini-sessions’ 3-2 to open up a slender 6-4 lead over the World no.1, and the crowd were really warming to the fighting spirit and determination that ‘Duzza’ shown during a tense opening ten legs.
Durrant continued to remain cool under pressure as the match progressed, but Durrant must’ve thought that he’d blown his chance at one stage as Van Gerwen piled in a ‘heartbreaking’ 134 checkout en route to a ‘typical’ MVG-type fightback to level the match up at 10-10.
As anticipated, the match went the distance, and as ‘overtime’ loomed, there were several signs of frailty from Van Gerwen, and the steely determination of Durrant shone through as he completed a 13-11 victory over the World no.1, and was greeted by a chorus of “There’s only one Glen Durrant” echoing around the Winter Gardens.
Durrant’s generous persona and the World-Class ability that he possesses, really warmed to the Blackpool faithful.
Following the ‘slaying’ of Van Gerwen, the darts community were full of admiration for the three-time World Champion.
During his post-match interview, Durrant was an ’emotional’ figure as you’d imagine, as he recorded a second consecutive victory over Michael Van Gerwen and perhaps the highlight of a ‘successful’ dart career thus far.
“This night will live with me forever, I’ve never experienced a crowd getting behind me like that,” said Durrant, who will face James Wade in the quarter-finals.
“At times I forgot I was playing Michael van Gerwen, and when I realised I was in with a chance of winning the emotions were incredible.
“I went for a walk on the beach earlier today and I ended up getting sunburn, and that along with the incredible heat up there made it even harder for me.
“I now need to go away, relax and contemplate what I’ve done and look ahead to the rest of the tournament, but whatever happens from now on in my career this moment will never be taken away from me.”
Following that ‘special’ victory, Durrant had 24 hours to ‘reflect’ on what was a monumental victory in terms of his relatively new PDC career. And with his best friend Dennis and his family around him, Durrant was in a relaxed mood ahead of a ‘huge’ Quarter-Final clash with former World Matchplay winner James Wade.
So, onto James Wade it was, and Durrant entered the Quarter-Final tie in the best form possible. in the opening exchanges, there was no separating the pair early doors, as Durrant emerged from 3-2 and 4-3 behind to take a healthy 6-4 lead into the second interval.
‘Duzza’ cruised through the gears after the ad-break, as he railroaded to a 16-7 victory taking ten out of the last thirteen legs to cement his place in the Semi-finals of the Betfred World Matchplay on debut.
In terms of averages in comparison to the previous round, it wasn’t anything extraordinary, but the steely determination to get ‘over the line’ from Durrant was admirable.
As previously mentioned, throughout the entirety of Durrant’s Betfred World Matchplay journey, the Blackpool faithful really warmed to ‘Duzza’.
During the post-match press conference, Durrant remained humble whilst determined to progress even further in what’s the been a ‘dream’ week for the three-time World Champion.
“At the start of the tournament I just wanted to prove to the PDC crowd that I could handle playing on this stage, and now I’m daring to dream of the title,” said Durrant.
“I’m absolutely ecstatic, I’m living the dream right now. I think the crowd are taking to me because they see an ordinary man who is having a whale of a time.
“I’m having a wonderful week, that’s the best way I can describe it. It’s such a special moment for me, it’s life-changing.”
Following his success in the Quarter-Finals, Durrant made time to mingle with his faithful supporters outside the Winter Gardens. Durrant wears his heart on his sleeve, and always shows the upmost respect for his beloved fans.
In the Semi-Finals, Durrant took on former Premier League and World Championship finalist, Michael Smith. In the opening stages, it was Smith who asserted his dominance on the match as he moved into a ‘comfortable’ 8-2 lead at the break whilst averaging almost 110.
Durrant tried not to get flustered despite the score-line, and he managed to battle his way back to 10-5. ‘Duzza’ managed to create one or two openings to claw his way back into the match, but Smith managed to secure a 17-10 victory.
Irrespective of the result, Durrant can most definitely hold his head high. It’s been a ‘dream’ week for the Teessider, and to reach his first PDC major Semi-Final on debut is a fantastic achievement in itself.
Despite the wet weather and Durrant making an ‘unfortunate exit’ from the Betfred World Matchplay, it didn’t stop Durrant’s loyal friends and family waiting to greet their hero outside the Winter Gardens.
As Durrant has quoted in the past, “There’s no time to dwell on a defeat in the PDC.”
And, there’s certainly no time for reflection as the Teesside ace returns to Pro Tour action next weekend in Germany, and with the withdrawal of some of the top names, Durrant really fancies his chances of a ‘deep run’.
In Durrant’s interview with Dominic Shaw from the Gazette, the World Matchplay Semi-Finalist remains upbeat after a ‘dream’ week in Blackpool.
“I didn’t put him (Smith) under pressure early on, he’s an incredibly talented young man”, said Durrant.
“Nobody in the PDC works harder than I do. My throw is very mechanical, it’s very monotonous, and that’s down to hard work and determination. There’s plenty of positives, and I’d just like to thank everybody.
“I’ve laid on my bed over the last couple of days and I knew that everyone was on my side, I knew that there was loads of parties going on.
“I’ll come back from this, I’ve got some Pro-Tours next week, a large number of the seeds aren’t there, so I’m going there to do really well.”
So all-in-all, it’s been a special week for the Glen Durrant, and although he was immensely disappointed on Saturday’s defeat, on reflection there are so many positives to take from a ‘delightful debut’.